LDV Donington Rally, this was it, the final round (Round 8) of what has been a bloody fantastic MSN Rally Championship season. I never thought that I would enjoy circuit rallying, but hell was I wrong. All season we have had some truly epic battles in Class B, and we have made some great friends along the way, true meaning of ‘rally family’.
Heading into this round we were sat 4th overall in the class championship, just 2 points behind 3rd and 4 points behind 2nd. Despite everything still being to play for, Paul & I had agreed that going into this round no pressure would be on and we would steer clear from looking at results. This meant we would focus on what rallying is all about – having fun and leaving each stage with a big grin on our faces – we believed this was even more important giving the current shitstorm that’s going on around us!
One of the biggest surprises of the day, had to be the fact that we had yet another ‘kind of’ dry round of rallying (okay it was kind of 50/50 on reflection) – something which had become a bit of a rarity during this championship! I am hoping next season the organisers can work a little bit harder on arranging sunnier weather. The day almost didn’t get going as with 10 minutes before our due time at MTC 1, the Mighty Mazda was refusing to fire up but thankfully, just like in the movies, we made it with about 60 seconds to spare. Paul drove a blinding opening stage, setting the 30th fastest stage time, and thankfully this form continued throughout the day. Despite the changing conditions, we had an incredibly clean run with very little drama, up until the point I tried to turn the MX-5 into an off-roader on Stage 4…
Stage 4 you ask – let me tell you a life story. When it comes to relationships, one of the most important aspects is trust. The same principle rings true when it comes to a driver/co-driver partnership. Now I often joke about Paul ‘never listening’ to me during rallies, unfortunately he proved me wrong during this stage, and showed that sometimes, he trusts me far too much. Confidently I called the approaching corners as a ‘fast right-left-right, stay flat’ and on the final right, off we shot across the grass and into a fairly impressive drift before Paul regained control and got us back onto the black stuff – turns out I should definitely have cautioned him into the corner on our first visit – but it’s cool – we survived the stage! The final two stages were fantastic fun, setting the 28th and 30th fastest times respectively, this strong finale boosted us up 4 places and ended us on a season high finish of 26th out of 80 starters, but was only enough for 4th in class – Class B is fantastic!
Despite this strong showing, we narrowly missed out on an overall class podium (although I have finished 3rd in the Co-Driver Championship – see Paul, it’s all about ME), but it has secured us 2nd overall in the Protyre Challenge. However, this has been a season to remember, Paul’s first full year of rallying complete, with 8 starts and 8 finishes, and finishing in the Top 3 on 3 occasions.
A huge thank you to everyone who has helped us out this season, especially to Paul Sheard for providing a seriously strong and competitive motor. Also, if you haven’t checked out Dan Hurst Rally on Facebook yet – what are you waiting for! Now it’s time for a bit of a rest from motorsport whilst the World sorts itself out, but Paul and I will be back to fight again for the 2020/21 season!